Like Madden NFL 19 cover star Antonio Brown, the EA Sports team isn't afraid to take risks. It will take another one upon this year's release on August 10.
This much made itself known in Madden NFL 18 with the monster debut of Longshot story mode. A largely cinematic experience aimed at a certain segment of players, as we noted in our review, the new mode was widely successful and had fans yearning for more.
Longshot told the story of former Texas quarterback Devin Wade as he looked to return to the sport and work his way toward the draft, culminating in his entering the NFL one way or another. Along for the ride was Colt Cruise, the comic relief and former wideout who could get serious when the story called for it.
Besides being a departure from what Madden does and straying more into HBO-show territory, the mode's various practice locales opened eyes as to just how creative Madden could get. Wade's winding story with multiple endings made it easy to wonder where the developers could choose to go next—and with whom.
Now we know.
Madden NFL 19 will pick up Wade's and Cruise's stories right where they left off. Dubbed Longshot: Homecoming, the focus is further player involvement and includes "four times the gameplay and [being] thrown into even more on-field action," per the game's official website.
A lack of gameplay over the three- to four-hour campaign of the first Longshot is being addressed here, though it was a complaint from players in large part because the practice sessions were so fun in the first place.
"We found that people who played Longshot were those who like Madden a lot, and they were disappointed this did not lead into something like franchise mode," EA Sports' Mike Young said, according to Polygon's Owen S. Good. "We had a very long story last year. But I think we have almost four times as much gameplay this year."
This is gameplay in addition to what last year's mode already provided, though, as the excellent story continues with Wade starting his career with the Dallas Cowboys and Cruise trying to balance life off the field while attempting a pro comeback. It sounds like they are in opposition when the story begins, a story that will play out at the NFL level.
According to Good, both Cruise and Wade are playable characters and will train in practice, preseason games and a full 16-game season with a team. This means more cutscenes taking place on the field, in the huddle and, likely, in facilities as the story plays out, compared to the more grounded roots of last year's game.
Based on a first look by IGN's Matthew Kato, it sounds like there aren't as many world-changing decisions confronting a player this time out. Instead, the established narrative takes players for a ride, weaving the on-field gameplay fans know and love into the greater context of another compelling narrative.
Also of note is what occurs after the game mode. The narrative will continue in game modes such as Connected Franchise and Madden Ultimate Team, allowing those who wish to keep the story going on their own terms to do so.
Overall, Madden 18 was a massive success because the developers worked hard to be as accessible as possible to the various audiences picking up the game each year. It seems like the same stance applies here with Longshot: Homecoming because those who wanted more gameplay weaved into the already-excellent narrative and superb voice acting get it.
Players can continue Wade's and Cruise's journeys beginning August 10.